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Friday, 13 October 2017 | MYT 12:00 AM

Thai golfers flex their muscles on debut

THAILAND’S Poom Saksansin made an early statement of intent by opening with a flawless seven-under 65 for a share of second place at the CIMB Classic.

The cherubic Thai created a huge impression on his debut when he fired seven birdies, including four on the trot after the turn, at the TPC Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The 24-year, together with Americans Keegan Bradley and Xander Schauffele, trail Australian Cameron Smith by a single shot heading into the second round today.

Poom birdied the opening hole (10th) before making eight straight pars.

He carded four straight birdies after the turn and closed with two birdies.

Poom, a two-time Asian Tour winner, attributed his good start to playing without pressure.

“My iron shots and putting were good. I holed a lot of putts today. I played without any expectations.

“I just kept playing and the ball kept going in. This is a big event but there is no cut. So I’m only feeling 50% pressure. I just want to play good here,” said Poom, who won the Take Solutions Masters in India in August.

He was not the only Thai debutant to steal the thunder.

Phachara Khongwatmai, despite not playing a single practice round, managed to finish with a five-under 67 to tie for eighth.

The 18-year-old only managed to walk the course on Wednesday after arriving straight from the just-concluded Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

“I didn’t expect to hit five-under because I bogeyed my first hole.

“But I controlled the ball better after that and made birdies. I just played. I never practised,” said the talented teenager, who became the youngest winner of a professional tournament when he won the Sing Hua Hin Open on the Asean PGA Tour in 2013 at the age of 14.